Wednesday, July 31, 2019
is bigger & better for YSU
By Brian Dzenis
Ray Anderson is still playing in the same stadium where he played high school football, but he is not the same player.
A few days before the Youngstown State football team reported for fall camp, the redshirt sophomore linebacker posted a before-and-after picture of himself standing shirtless in the YSU locker room on Twitter. Between April 29 and July 23, Anderson has maintained his weight at 225 pounds, but he’s a lot more muscular.
The Cardinal Mooney graduate put the work in the offseason because he has a big task ahead of him: stepping into the starting lineup for the graduated Armand Dellovade, who was a four-year starter for the Penguins.
“I’m a totally different player. My mindset is still the same — I always want to win — but I feel like I’m a totally different player. I have to be a leader on this team,” Anderson said. “In college, I’m learning about how to be a leader not only to my guys, but the whole team and the younger guys coming in. I have to earn the respect and then demand the respect from everybody else.”
Anderson and senior Cash Mitchell have been the top linebacker pairing through three days of camp. Christiaan Randall-Posey and Terray Bryant have also seen a lot of reps and have starting experience from last year. Count head coach Bo Pelini as a fan of Anderson.
“He’s got all the tools. He’s still learning and commanding out there. I expect a lot of big things out of him,” Pelini said. “He gets better every day he comes out here. He learns and he takes coaching. He has all of the attributes.
Anderson was pressed into service last year five games into the season when he got his first start against Southern Illinois after Mitchell was suspended for a half due to a targeting penalty in the previous game. He ended up starting five games in 2018.
“I had [Dellovade] and Cash helping me. They picked me up when I was down. They picked me up when I did good,” Anderson said. “They pushed me because they knew this day would come when I would be starting.
“It wasn’t just those games. It was those days and practices. It was all those lifting sessions that have helped me get to where I am today.”
Mitchell has taken on additional leadership responsibilities. He’s often making calls near the line of scrimmage and points things out to Anderson.
“It’s a tough position. Everyone is looking up to you and stuff for the calls and what-not,” Mitchell said. “I just need to take my experience, apply it on the field and in the meeting room and classroom so people follow me as well.”
YSU’s linebackers are led by second-year assistant coach Sean Baker, whom Pelini said is “a star in the making” in the coaching profession.
The Canfield graduate shares Pelini’s optimism about Anderson and the Penguins’ linebackers collectively even with the graduation of a critical cog in the defense.
“You can never replace an Armand Dellovade. You can’t replace a player and a person like that,” Baker said. “With Ray and Cash, a lot of these older guys are embracing the challenge of stepping up their mental game and truly learning the defense and what everyone is doing on the field.
“We’re going to be just fine.”
PENGUINS LEFT IN COLD
The Missouri Valley Football Conference released its Preseason All-Conference list for offensive players on Tuesday. No YSU players made the first team or received an honorable mention. YSU was the only school in the MVFC to be left off both lists.